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caption: Registered nurse Jeanice Smith, left, administers a flu shot for Cynthia Caci on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, at UW Tower in Seattle.
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Registered nurse Jeanice Smith, left, administers a flu shot for Cynthia Caci on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, at UW Tower in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Flu season ramps up in Washington state, with three dead so far

Washington's flu season is ramping up and, already, three people have died from the virus this season.

This is the standard timeline for the flu, which presents in Washington about this time each year.

More than 240 people died in each of the past three flu seasons... in Washington state.

The number rarely reached 100 before 2016.

Flu season changes year to year, but the peak in the last three years was toward the beginning of February.

The Department of Health says now is a good time to get a flu shot, if you haven't already, before the flu spreads further.

"Flu activity really is unpredictable, and it can ramp up and die down at different times each year," says Danielle Koenig, a health promotion supervisor for the state Department of Health.

2018 was a big year for the Influenza A virus, while the year before had a mix of influenza A and B strains.

It's too early to know what strain is predominant in Washington this year, but the U.S. vaccine fights against three or four of the most common ones.

"Unfortunately so far we have seen three deaths from the flu this year, and many people have gotten sick or are starting to get sick," Koenig says. "We really want to make sure that everybody's getting their flu shot to have the best protection from getting sick or going to the hospital."

The deaths were in Pierce, Kittitas and Franklin counties.